The heat was overwhelming upon my first taste of Kuwaiti air in the 3rd quarter of the year. Even at night, the blowing wind felt like it was coming from the oven. During day, the sun intensifies the heat, reaching higher than 40°C. The only respite is the shade. But even under the shadows, I found myself still sweating buckets. It took a while for me to get used to this weather. Even if there are several malls with air-conditioners functioning at full capacity, I was looking for some green, cool, and open spaces. I found the recently open and on-going development of Al Shaheed Park fascinating. A modern city development to what seemed to be an oasis in the city.
Oasis in the City
Al Shaheed Park is located at the edge of the center of the city. It is 15km away from Salmiya where I was staying. It took me a series of connecting bus rides to go here. The 20-hectare park was easy to find. It was said to be built on a heritage zone, an age old district. The park was designed to let people “Experience the land, history and culture of Kuwait.” Al Shaheed Park is part of the US$1 billion development project under the Kuwait National Cutural District (KNCD).
Gardens and Lake
The development of the entire park comes in phases. Phase 1 area was clearly still in development when I visited but is already presentable enough to allow visitors in. Entering the main gate, I made my way to the right side to the park leading to the “Circle of Peace” where a beautiful garden can be found. Modernized benches available and aptly spaced to enjoy the lush surroundings. I welcome this openness, a contrast from the usually drab and earthy colors of the city. Weekly events were usually held here which includes free yoga classes which was also the reason I was drawn to this park.
Nearby is the Green Belt Lake which is part of the Green Zone. Obviously man-made but it has nice pathways around it for joggers/runners and renders a nice reflection of the city skyline.
Modern Art and Architecture
What impressed me most about the park are the building architecture and sculptures. From the Guest Center, The Habitat and Remembrance museums. I wasn’t able to get into the latter two as they were closed at that time but they were striking and had beautiful geometry. The paved pathways itself had drawn beautiful leading lines at the park. Sculpture like the “Freedom” by Bader M. Al Mansour was fascinating.
As the sun was nearing to set, I found myself spending time at the Constitution Garden. Filled with olive trees, palm trees, plants and shrubs that can thrive even at the heat reaching 50°C. The garden was constructed to symbolically represent the way leading the old and the new with a path to democracy. The portal-like monument represents the constitution created in 1961. The monument was built to celebrate the constitution’s 50th anniversary. There are 183 block reliefs and 183 palm trees and olive trees to represent the individual articles of the constitution.
Al Shaheed Park Update
At the time of this writing, Phase II of the park is already open which includes a parkour area, skate area, treetop climbing obstacle course, open air performance center, multipurpose youth complex and some mini-versions of Kuwait iconic landmarks and structures. Phase III is currently in development.
Park is open from 5AM to 8PM but most of the events are now online via ZOOM due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.